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Taking action to get child support

CHILD SUPPORT FACT SHEET 1

You may be aware that your Family Tax Benefit can be reduced unless you take reasonable action to obtain child support from the father of your child.

The Child Support Service of Legal Aid NSW can give you advice about this. This Fact Sheet explains the steps you can take. If you are unsure about any of these steps, please contact us to make an appointment.

STEP 1

Lodge an application for a child support assessment with the Department of Human Services: Child Support (“Child Support”) by phone on 131 272, online at:
www.humanservices.gov.au or in person at a Centrelink office.

Child Support will only accept your application if you can provide proof that the person you named is the father of your child. The only proof Child Support can accept that a person is the father of your child is:

  • If the person is named as the father on the child’s birth certificate
  • If the person has sworn a statutory declaration that he is the father
  • If you and the person were married when the child was born
  • If you were living with the person when the child was conceived
  • If the person has legally adopted the child
  • If a court has made an order that the person is the father

STEP 2

If you do not have proof that the person is the father of your child, Child Support will tell you they are refusing your application and send you a letter. As soon as Child Support tell you they are going to refuse your application, you should contact us for an appointment. You have only a limited time from when you get the refusal letter to make an application to court. The time limit is that you must apply to the Federal Circuit Court or a local court within 56 days of when you get the letter.

STEP 3

Bring the following things to your legal aid appointment:

  • The letter from Child Support refusing your application for child support
  • A copy of your child’s birth certificate

During your appointment with one of our solicitors, we can tell you if you are likely to be eligible for a grant of legal aid for us to make an application to court on your behalf.

Eligibility for legal aid

If you are eligible for a grant of legal aid

You will need to complete a legal aid application form and provide us with proof of your income and assets. legal aid may then make an application to court on your behalf. Your legal aid solicitor will tell you more about this process. An application to court will often involve DNA parentage testing. Once a court has made orders about the parentage of your child, you can register those orders with Child Support and they will then issue a child support assessment.

If you are not eligible for a grant of aid

You may choose to use a private solicitor or you can make an application to court yourself. In either case you should file your application as soon as possible after you receive the refusal letter from the Child Support. The time limit is that you must apply within 56 days of when you get the letter.

Applying for a child support parentage declaration

STEP 1

Child support matters are generally started in the Federal Circuit Court (www.fcc.gov.au), although some matters may be dealt with in the Local Court.

You will need to prepare the following documents:

  • An Initiating Application
  • An affidavit in support of your application
You can download these forms from:
www.familylawcourts.gov.au
or you can call the Court on 1300 352 000 and they will post the forms to you.

In the Initiating Application you should ask the Court to make the following final order:


A declaration pursuant to section 106A of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, that [NAME OF THE FATHER] should be assessed in relation to the costs of the child [NAME OF YOUR CHILD AND DATE OF BIRTH], because the [NAME OF THE FATHER] is a parent of [NAME OF YOUR CHILD]



If your application is filed later than the time limits that apply for filing, you can also seek an order for an extension of time. In that case the order you should seek is as follows:



That pursuant to Regulation 3.05 of the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 the time for filing of this application for a declaration pursuant to Section 106A of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 is extended to the date this application is filed.



An affidavit is a written statement setting out the evidence to support your application in your own words. You should give a brief history of your relationship with the father, and details of any other relationships you had before or after your child was conceived. If your application is late and you are seeking an extension of time, you should also give reasons for the delay in your affidavit.

You should attach to your affidavit:

  • A copy of your child’s birth certificate
  • A copy of the letter from Child Support refusing your application for child support.

For more information about preparing an affidavit visit the Family Court’s website: www.familylawcourts.gov.au

STEP 2

Filing your documents at the Court

After you have your court documents witnessed, you must take or send the original and three copies of the documents to the Court for filing. You are not required to pay a filing fee for child support matters. The court will give you a date to come to court and return three sealed (stamped) copies of the documents to you. You need to serve the sealed copies on the other party and Child Support. The third copy is for you to keep.

STEP 3

Service of documents

You will need to serve a sealed copy of the documents on the other party. You cannot do this yourself. You may choose to use a commercial process server to serve the Court documents. The person who serves the documents must complete an Affidavit of Service. More information about service is available on the Family Court’s website: www.familylawcourts.gov.au

You can serve a copy of the documents on Child Support by taking them to a Child Support office or by mail. However, you should ask Child Support to provide an Acknowledgement of Service.

STEP 4

What happens on the first court date?

You must attend court on the first court date. You should take all your paperwork with you to court, including your proof that the other party has been served.

If the other party has been served but does not come to court, you may be able to ask the Court to make your orders on a final basis. If the other party comes to court but tells the Court that he does not believe he is the father of the child, you should seek orders from the Court for DNA testing. You can ask that the other party pay the costs of the testing, or you can share the cost. If you can’t agree, the Court will decide.

If you are required to undergo DNA testing, you should seek an adjournment of at least 2 months for the testing to occur.

STEP 5

DNA testing, how does it work?

You must use one of the laboratories authorised under the Family Law Regulations to conduct DNA parentage testing. DNA testing can be costly. The laboratory will arrange for samples to be taken from the child and both parents and then prepare a report that can be used as evidence in court.

STEP 6

Next court date

When the DNA testing results are available, the judicial officer will consider the report and can make appropriate final orders. When you receive the final orders from the Court, you should send a copy to Child Support. Provided the Court made a declaration about child support, an assessment should be made and issued to you.

This fact sheet provides basic information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. If you are likely to be involved in court proceedings or legal action, you should get advice from a lawyer. Lawyers can be obtained privately, through Legal Aid NSW or at Community Legal Centres. The Child Support Service of Legal Aid NSW may also be able to provide you with advice.


Child Support Service Legal Aid NSW

Level 5, 91 Phillip Street,
Parramatta NSW 2150

PO Box 165, Parramatta NSW 2124
Ph: (02)9633 9916
or Toll free(regional): 1800 451 784
Fax: (02) 9689 1082
Email: admin.css@legalaid.nsw.gov.au

Order free brochures online at
www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/publications
or email publications@legalaid.nsw.gov.au
or call 02 9219 5028.

August 2014